Larry Norman - Streams Of White Light Into Darkened Corners (reissue)

Published Thursday 2nd June 2011
Larry Norman - Streams Of White Light Into Darkened Corners (reissue)
Larry Norman - Streams Of White Light Into Darkened Corners (reissue)

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
LABEL: Solid Rock SRDX006

Reviewed by Dougie Adam

The Church for much of the '60s and '70s failed to engage with rock and roll and did not recognise the medium could be used in positive way to articulate and express Christian faith. They tended to fall into the trap of either recognising no connection between the faith and the top 40 charts or, in extreme instances, denouncing singers, bands and their fans with actions like the burning of Beatles records when John Lennon claimed his group were becoming more popular than organised religion. In time, the Jesus Movement saw young Christians beginning to use rock music as a way of expressing their faith. With this collection of covers of secular hits with religious themes Larry Norman threw some food for thought into the debate about how the Church should view rock music. In places Norman openly lampoons church youth groups, adopting quasi-religious hits like "My Sweet Lord", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Spirit In The Sky" and Christianising them for use in worship while at the same time often viewing some of the Christians making Jesus Music as potential wolves in sheep's clothing. His treatment here of material by Randy Newman, Jackson Browne, Leon Russell, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton is a lot more sympathetic and indeed there are times on "He Gives Us All His Love" (Newman), "Song For Adam" (Browne) "Presence Of The Lord" (Clapton) and "Shine A Light" (Rolling Stones) when Norman and his band (including Randy Stonehill, Tom Howard and Jon Linn) give the originals a run for their money and where these covers sound as good as anything else Larry recorded in the '70s. Some people have said the mix of the goofy humour as Randy Stonehill plays the role of an egotistical DJ introducing the songs on a radio show and the selection of well known secular hits combine to make this one of the more accessible or instantly enjoyable Larry Norman albums. This CD re-issue reinstates the original AB Records 1977 sleeve artwork though oddly the accompanying essay which came with the vinyl LP and first CD re-issue is missing this time round. One or two listeners may get frustrated that over the first few songs in particular Larry and the band deliberately destroy a few of the songs they cover, but on the whole this is worth seeking out if you are a Norman fan and it also highlights an often overlooked side of Larry as a recording artist - as an idiosyncratic interpreter of other songwriters' material.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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